The Golden State Warriors just defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in their first-round NBA playoff series. But soon, the two teams will be competing in another arena — the free agency pursuit of Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
Durant is expected to enter free agency again this summer, and the Clippers are among the teams thought to be interested in the star player, who has won championships in his first two seasons with Golden State.
The New York Knicks, in some quarters, are considered the favorite to sign Durant, with a SportsNet New York report earlier this month calling that a “done deal.” But the Clippers are thought to have a good chance at Durant as well. And one veteran NBA reporter has a good idea as to why.
According to reporter Chris Mannix, speaking on Fox Sports 1’s Speak For Yourself, as cited by the Daily Express, Durant has been influenced in the past by his free agency meetings. In the Clippers’ case, they have a chance to impress Durant by bringing owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers, and its “deep front office,” which includes NBA legend Jerry West. The Knicks, on the other hand, are less likely to be able to create that sort of impression.
Mannix was referring to Durant’s previous multi-team free agency go-round in 2016, during which Durant took meetings with teams in The Hamptons. He was impressed by the Boston Celtics bringing Tom Brady in, as well as what the Warriors did in their meeting. Durant, who began his career with the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder organization, signed with the Warriors when he became a free agent three years ago.
Per The Inquisitr, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith said last week that, despite the impression that the Knicks are the favorites for Durant, the Clippers have a “better than 50/50 chance” of landing both Durant and fellow free agent Kawhi Leonard. Smith based that reasoning on both players wanting to be in Los Angeles, while avoiding the dysfunction of the L.A. Lakers.
This offseason, the four teams based in New York and Los Angeles — the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Lakers, and Clippers — all have large amounts of salary cap space and are expected to compete heavily for free agents.
Meanwhile, Durant’s Warriors are set to begin their second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. Leonard, another free agent to be who is with the Toronto Raptors, will start his own series against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night.